Works by Playwright’s Lab M.F.A. Students Are Nominated for the KCACTF National Festival

Works by Playwright’s Lab M.F.A. Students Are Nominated for the KCACTF National Festival

Accolades and Awards, Graduate Studies, Playwriting

February 14, 2024

Works by Playwright’s Lab M.F.A. Students Are Nominated for the KCACTF National Festival KCACTF Region IV

Two plays by M.F.A. students from the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, Kolin Lawler’s ten-minute play Astroturf and the one-act play The Greenhouse by J. Harvey Stone, are finalists under consideration to be showcased by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) this spring,

If the plays are selected from all other regional finalists from around the country, the playwrights will be invited to attend the KCACTF National Festival in Washington, D.C., the week of April 21, where their works will have developmental readings with professional actors and directors.

The plays were chosen for Nationals during the KCACTF Region IV Festival, held February 6 – 10 in Albany, Georgia. Celebrating the work of student theatre artists for over 50 years, KCACTF Region IV represents colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Virginia.

“We had a large contingent of graduate and undergraduate students representing Hollins at the regional festival again this year,” says Playwright’s Lab Director Todd Ristau, who notes that the university’s participation was “a huge success. We routinely dominate the various award categories in New Play Development and this year was no exception.”

Chrysalis: A Memory Play, written by M.F.A. student Gwyneth Strope, was last year’s KCACTF Region IV recipient of the David L. Shelton Award, honoring a full-length, student-written play. The award carries with it an expectation of returning the following year as a full production. In January the theatre department produced it as part of the 2024 Hollins – Mill Mountain Theatre Winter Festival of New Works. The production reflected growing synergies between Hollins’ graduate and undergraduate theatre programs, as the festival boasted 18 undergraduate interns in support roles, including acting.

Chrysalis got a spontaneous standing ovation at KCACTF Regionals this year and was widely lauded as some of the best theatre anyone has seen there in a long time. People laughed out loud and wept openly,” Ristau relates. He adds that a number of the attendees at the staging expressed interest in applying to the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins. “They want to study where good work is done.”

Each year, the KCACTF National Festival welcomes about 125 outstanding theatre students to the Kennedy Center. Student awardees in design, performance, directing, playwriting, stage management, dramaturgy, arts leadership, and theatre criticism are invited from all eight KCACTF regions.

Through master classes, presentations, conversations, and staged readings, students learn from and connect with established theatre artists as well as their peers from across the country.